Methods to Inexpensively Integrate APIs
Web app automation (WAA) is the unofficial poor man’s API (Application Programming Interface). While DIY workflows might seem like a money-saving alternative to traditional integration, in some cases, you might be better off duct-taping utilities to your company smartphone than connecting to partial solutions via The Cloud.
Curious about the WAA hype? Check out these three cheap ways to integrate programs – and their potential downsides.
Zapier works on a system of triggers that prompt actions. These pre-existing and sometimes user-made workflow creations are known as “Zaps;” thus, automation. While Zapier does have some important CRM functionality that allows businesses to preset tasks for Salesforce, it’s far from customizable in its approach to communication.
It works from a list of 200 predefined Zaps that dictate what your company can and can’t automate. The upside: Zapier automates via its own server. The downside? It may not automate exactly what you need it to – especially if your solutions run on tailored platforms.
Zapier outright states that it presets “tedious” tasks; it says nothing about the important ones.
IFTTT (If This Then That)
IFTTT relies on surface-level activities (again, triggers and actions) to be carried out through its database of customizable and creatable app-based “recipes.” Like Zapier, it’s essentially the WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) of app development – and if you’ve ever dealt with a WYSIWYG editor, you know that’s probably not a good thing.
Its motto, “Put the internet to work for you,” highlights its weakness. Much like Zapier, IFTTT relies on stores of preexisting (mostly consumer-level) solutions that are charming but don’t really work well for most enterprise needs. That is to say, it can’t allow your customized POS app to talk to your CRM.
It can, however, trigger scores of social media solutions involving tagging, commenting, and more that may work for the daily needs of some of your employees, but certainly not all.
Unlike Zapier and IFTTT, CloudWork is definitely geared toward businesses. Its app integration list is a bit smaller than most other WAA services, but it’s composed mostly of powerful, popular enterprise apps. However, this task-based system relies on semi-complicated filtering that could result in frustrating errors – especially for first-time WAA users.
In some cases, you may have to contact the support team to ensure your integration is actually working. Even then there are no guarantees until, of course, an important task is missed.
Keep in mind: all of these are freemium services. Meaning, while there is a free or inexpensive version available, you’ll likely still pay (often monthly) for the number of actual features and bandwidth your company really needs. Conversely, a well-made custom solution might pay for itself in a year or two rather than bleeding money recurrently.
Ultimately, only an expert will know if a one-size-fits-all solution can efficiently automate your enterprise app tasks. Often DIY solutions such as those listed above offer “support,” rather than expert consultation, leading inexperienced wannabe developers to waste countless hours automating for nothing.
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